|I||Sparta Praha||H. Kiryat Shmona|
Liverpool FC will look to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time in their European history as FC Anji Makhachkala coach Guus Hiddink returns to the scene of former glories in UEFA Europa League Group A.
• The clubs are meeting for the first time, and it is also Anji's debut against an English side.
• Liverpool's seven previous games against Russian clubs ended W4 D1 L2 (W1 D1 L1 at Anfield – W2 D0 L1 in Russia), with the most recent of those matches the 2005 UEFA Super Cup, where the Reds beat PFC CSKA Moskva 3-1 in Monaco. Anji's Yuri Zhirkov was on the losing side in that game.
• Anji's 2-0 win against BSC Young Boys on matchday two matched their biggest ever European home win, achieved against Vitesse in this season's third qualifying round.
• Group A has had more goals after two matchdays than any other section: 17 – an average of over four per match.
• A 3-2 defeat by Udinese Calcio on matchday two ended Liverpool's 13-game unbeaten European run at Anfield (W10 D3) going back to a 2-1 loss to ACF Fiorentina on 9 December 2009.
• The Reds have never lost successive European games at Anfield.
• Anji are unbeaten in eight European games this season (W7 D1) in their first continental campaign since marking their European debut with a 1-0 loss against Rangers FC in the first round of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup – a tie played as a one-legged affair in Warsaw due to security concerns in Chechnya, which neighbours Anji's native Dagestan.
• Liverpool's next goal will be their 550th in UEFA club competition – this is their 315th European game.
• SSC Napoli's Eduardo Vargas and Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey are the top scorers in this season's group stage with three goals each. Liverpool's Stewart Downing also leads the way in terms of assists, having set up three.
• With seven goals apiece, Liverpool and Olympique de Marseille are the highest-scoring clubs in the group stage.
• Anji's Lassana Diarra played alongside Liverpool's Glen Johnson and Joe Cole at Chelsea FC (2005–07). Diarra also played for Arsenal FC and Portsmouth FC, while his Anji team-mates Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers FC) and Zhirkov (Chelsea FC) played in England too.
• Diarra and Liverpool's on-loan Nuri Şahin won the Spanish title together last season at Real Madrid CF.
• Liverpool's Slovakian defender Martin Škrtel played in Russia for FC Zenit St Petersburg (2004–08).
• Samuel Eto'o has been to Anfield before, featuring in a 1-0 win against Liverpool with FC Barcelona in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League round of 16.
• Brendan Rodgers replaced Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager over the summer. He won promotion to the Premier League in 2011 with Swansea City AFC and led the Welsh club to a comfortable mid-table finish. Born in Northern Ireland, he had to end his playing career at 20 due to a knee condition, but made his name as a coach with Watford FC and Reading FC. He is coaching in Europe for the first time this term.
• Anji coach Hiddink achieved little of note as a midfielder, but has racked up six domestic titles and five cups as a coach at various clubs. The Dutchman has also led the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia and Turkey at international level and won the 1987/88 European Cup with PSV Eindhoven. He took charge at Anji in February.
• Joe Cole was in Hiddink's squad during his time as Chelsea caretaker manager in 2009, though the midfielder was injured for the whole of the Dutchman's tenure.
• Hiddink's Chelsea eliminated Liverpool in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, winning 3-1 at Anfield and drawing 4-4 in London.
• This is FARE Action Week, with UEFA giving its support to Europe's biggest anti-discrimination campaign. There are activities before each UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League game which will be witnessed by thousands of fans in the stadiums and millions on television. A 30-second RESPECT TV spot and announcements over stadium loudspeakers will encourage fans to join the UEFA family in its call to unite against racism in football. Every team will be accompanied on to the pitch by children wearing Unite Against Racism T-shirts and captains will be asked to wear a Unite Against Racism armband.
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